My day started off with a visit to my friend Clariscia Gill Couture.
Tea, Cupcakes, great conversation and discussions on the latest in mens fashion. Clariscia is one of the top fashion designers in the UK and her output of top class items is truly astounding. She recently made for me a wonderful bespoke Waistcoat and matching Tie.
CGC is set in the idyllic setting of Lancashire Court. You could easily be in Paris. This Courtyard has a lot of charm and class and is home to many top class wine bars and restaurants.
The one thing that left me really concerned about my visit to CGC was Clariscia's love affair with Canon. Relationships between men and women are bad enough without letting our beloved camera's come between us. Oh well, I think I will have to let this one slide, she is too much of a good friend to let camera politics come between us.
When you come out of Charing Cross Underground and take a sharp right and right again, a straight walk down and to your left you will be greeted by a most wonderful sight - The Victoria Embankment Gardens. This particular Garden has a strong connection with Royalty.
The more I engage in this activity, the more I am feeling and hearing the voice of the streets. The great photographer Jay Maisel said to go out totally "empty". Don't have a fixed plan of what to shoot, let the image come to you. Be open, receptive and ready.
In my training in the field of personal development, one of the things my tutor continually stressed is to come from "nothing" and give "everything". I am amazed how this teaching has crossed over into my studies in photography.
With no agenda in mind, I caught the images that spoke to me.
This empty bicycle stand tells a story. London has become so accessible for people wanting to get around quickly and efficiently. Who is riding this bike? What time will they be back? I wonder what sort of day this person has had?
As soon as I saw this, I was down on one knee and took the shot - it spoke to me immediately. The person who left this empty can here could have been on a mobile phone and in too much of a hurry to put their trash in the bin. The can looks almost regal the way it is perched on top of the trash can.
The Paddington Basin Regeneration project is looking good. In the next year or so it will be a spectacular site if this image is anything to go.
I took this shot almost lying on my back to get a good perspective.
Bryan Peterson is famous for putting himself into positions which could be classified as undignified in order to get the shot. I now understand what this feels like because I was shooting today with my prime lens 50mm.
This is a good lens for street work, it makes you earn the shot - there is no zooming, plenty of leg work to frame the composition while maintaining good photographic form.
These last two shots form part of a statue outside St.Mary's Hospital - intriguing.
Darlene Hilderbrandt's free E-book has many wonderful suggestions for improving your photography. In the first challenge, she encourages us to pick a subject and shoot it from 10 different perspectives. Each shot must look and feel different in such a way that the viewer wouldn't know it's the same subject.
My subject has been "Little Venice" for the last few days.
I have featured a number of shots of this particular location in my neighbourhood and today, I would like to share a few more the form of "The Little Venice" gallery.
These shots are quite interesting because I was armed with my D90 set to an Aperture of F8 - Shutter Speed varied to around 1/1000 sec, ISO 200, WB Cloudy and I decided to work with my Prime Lens 50mm. This forced me to work for the shot and composition.
Here are my shots:
Little Venice forms part of The Paddington Basin - a long stretch of The Grand Union Canal.
This Canal can take you on a boat ride, right up to The famous Camden Lock in North West London.
This particular stretch near my home leads to Paddington Station.
Along the canal route are some really fascinating sights.
This shot is of two gigantic statues.
They stand just below the A40 Flyover. The two statues are well over life size and cut quite an imposing presence.
Imagine being a professional Taxi Driver?
This is where your day could begin or at any train station location in the city of London. This area forms part of Paddington Station. Many travelers come out at this point to continues their journey. This is quite a sight, hundreds of taxis all waiting to take their turn, picking up the next passenger. They must have a lot of patience to do their job. The London Cabbie are quite friendly chaps and do there job well in my experience.
This was a lot fun, and I achieved a big breakthrough in my camera walk - talking to strangers. Today, I feel like I have stepped into a whole new world "Steet Photogrpahy". Check out my "Street Life Commentary" to learn more.
In the world of magic, my friend and mentor Darwin Ortiz described me after viewing this site, as the possibility of becoming, "The Eye of London". Darwin brought to my attention another pioneer in the world of photography, the name of "Brassai". He was an Hungarian photographer who flourished during the middle years of the 20th century. Brassai, like Henri Cartier Bresson brought a fine sensitivity to his craft and found capturing the night life of Paris to his particular calling. In fact, Brassai was dubbed "The Eye of Paris" by Henry Miller because he enjoyed the nocturnal approach to Street Photography.
It was indeed a compliment that Darwin Oritz, one of the finest exponents of sleight of hand card magic in the world, would draw reference of my early start in photography to such a high calibre artist in the world of creative photography.
Darwin's comment got me thinking, and it inspired me to go out tonight with the sole intention of capturing London at night. It was a wonderful experience because I shared the evening with my friend Julian James, another fine magical artist in his own right. Together, we saw London and all of her colourful beauty through the lens of my D90, I hope you enjoy this collection along with the Shot of The Day.
I really feel that these shots need no further commentary from me, the beauty speak for themselves.
My shot of the day was a tough choice, here it is.
The author Eric Dahlin wrote a great book for photographers called "70 Photography Lessons". 70 golden nuggets of information to make any hobbyist a better photographer. I like this book a lot, things are beginning to make a lot more sense to me now. Re-reading this book has made some of the concepts much more real and vivid as I apply many of the lessons.
Lesson 3 - Try Something New:
DSLR Photography offers up a rich palette of shooting opportunities.
Journalism was my first passion before I studied magic. Now with my camera, I am studying photojournalism, a really interesting subject, current affairs with news worthy images. Photography and magic have a lot in common, self expression, imagery, emotion, storytelling and relationships with people.
My plan is to master every aspect of photography: nature, action, sports, wildlife, architecture, travel, street photography, portraits, boudoir, night photography, all of these different context brings out different elements in the imagination and the camera is used to bring the mental image to life. The shot begins in the mind first - the mind is the greatest camera ever built, period.
Lesson number 8 in the book he advises to "never leave your camera at home" - this is obvious and true, I don't want to miss an opportunity to get my shot of the day. I have set a goal and context to get out and shoot everyday, even if it means a walk in the park to get a new perspective on something I have shot before.
My camera walk today yielded a wonderful surprise, more about that later.
First things first,I wanted to re-shoot Sherlock Homes outside Baker Street Station. My last attempt was a confusing mess as I tried to expose the image using Aperture Priority with Exposure Compensation. The statue of this most famous British Detective has a lot of detail. Today was very sunny and blew out most of the detail. However. this image was a whole lot simpler - I just set the my camera to Manual, dialed in the Aperture, set the Shutter Speed keeping an eye on my exposure meter and bingo, cool shot.
Experiments with Manual Exposure and Shutter Speed - the swans and ducks move very quickly, however, I was able to capture a few cool shots.
Experiments with Depth of Field - this garden shot right in the heart of the park looked interesting enough to shoot. I wanted to keep everything nice and sharp, nice shot.
I recently came across a great photographer by the name of Darlene Hilderbrandt. Darlene runs a website called Digital Photo Mentor. I downloaded her free e-book and discovered an interesting point of view. Darlene offers up a challenge; to take ten different shots of the same subject and to make each shot look different. I took this up and chose my favourite part of town "Little Venice". I love the open space, the water, the blue bridge and the moored boats. I decided to take a walk on the other side of the canal to get a different perspective and shoot, here's another shot, more to follow.
To conclude, today was a lot of fun.
The icing on the cake was this next shot, which has become "My Shot of The Day"
Tonight, I challenged myself to some night photography with my D90 and Sigma 18-250mm lens. This was a new experience with my photography. I felt confident because I knew from yesterday's experience and success with shooting in Manual Priority, I would be well supported.
My target subjects were The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and the London Embankment south of Charing Cross. I have to say, the lights of The London Eye looked glorious.
I shot all of my images RAW so that I could capture as much detail and information. ISO was set to 200 and allowed myself some flexibility with my shutter speed. The biggest difference was my cable release and tripod to avoid camera shake and blurred images.
My shots came out fine with a little tweaking in Photoshop RAW - not too shabby for a first attempt however, I know I can and will do better.
A Breakthrough in Manual Priority
Today was my first experience in having a breakthrough in shooting in manual mode on my D90. Let me say right here and now, manual labour is good for the soul.
I now understand what many authors have been trying to communicate; the pathway to becoming a creative photographer is mastering shooting in "Manual Priority". I want to give thanks and credit to Bryan Peterson, author of "Understanding Exposure". His book was the "decisive moment" when my confidence with my D90 opened up a pathway to new possibilities - thank you Bryan.
The following shots are by no means inspiring. I am sharing them because they represent to me the magic moment when my photography went to the next level of studies. Rest assured there is much more to come.
The following images were shot in M Mode on a Nikon D90 using 50mm Prime Lens with additional in camera amplification of WB and Saturation+3
Everyday this week, I will be embarking on a new adventure, Street Photography.
I have been doing some studies of late and came across the name of Henri Cartier Bresson who is considered the father of Photojournalism - I am well and truly inspired by this man. I will be doing a lot more research into this extra-ordinary man while I am out and about looking for that sweet moment of pure inspiration, to capture a moment of magic.
Stay with me.